I'm in a writing comp class and my professor is charging the class each a cash fee for a New Yorker magazine which is part of the required classwork. Is this allowed and is it considered ethical, especially knowing there are textbooks and other avenues that she can get our classwork from where we can go through school sources such as our book store or library to get our course work? Personally it is not even the fee I'm worried about, I am worried about a professor taking advantage of her students for her own personal gain, it just doesn't feel right or professional, and it definitely doesn't seem like it is good conduct.

  • 6
    Where is the personal gain coming from? Do you have to buy the magazine through her? Does she sell it above the market price?
    – Pioneer83
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 2:16
  • 1
    Tell us the cover price of the magazine, the amount you paid, or will have to pay, and to whom you paid or will pay the money.
    – Bob Brown
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 2:53
  • Is she just buying in bulk as it is not locally available?
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 4:11
  • This practice is common in Asia and Africa, where access to resources are limited. Certainly, there is some opportunity for financial gain, but this is generally small. Ask for a receipt.
    – user96258
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 4:41

1 Answer 1


This is a bit subtle in general, but the specific case seems benign unless the professor requires you to buy if from him/her specifically. If you can show that you already have access to it (possibly destructive access, depending on the use - cutting it up) but still must again purchase it then it would be questionable.

However, note that many professors assign required textbooks that you must purchase. Sometimes, believing that the best book for the course is the one they wrote themselves, you are actually contributing a few dollars to their pocket when you buy it. Noting that a $US100 textbook gives the author(s) around $5 back money probably isn't an important element of their decision. There are some professors who will return there royalties to students in some cases when the student buys a new copy.

I once wrote a supplementary set of notes for one of my advanced classes. They were required (and referred to daily in class), and cost the students the amount required to duplicate them. I didn't gain from the transaction, nor was I specifically paid to create them.

It is acceptable, in my view, for a professor to require such a resource. It is less acceptable to require purchase from a specific source from which the professor profits.

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